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History of Finlandia Inland Northwest

In the Pacific Northwest the Finnish Culture is represented through Finlandia Inland Northwest, an organization that was founded in 1970. The organization was originally created as a Social Club and was later incorporated into membership in 1974 in order to focus more on the culture and traditions of Finnish Heritage. Today the organization serves as a way for members to share their heritage with their communities – anyone can join the organization, ancestry is not required!

From the beginning, there were many successful events, including the annual Juhannus Kokko or Midsummer celebration at the Grandview Lodge at Priest Lake.
Some 300 to 400 Finns came from as far away as Montana. There was food, dancing and a big bonfire (kokko) out on the lake. A Kokko fire is a tradition celebrating mid- summer (summer solstice) and the three months of constant daylight from June to August in Finland. Several Finland’s Independence Day dinners and dance parties were held at the old Son’s of Norway Hall in downtown Spokane.

Initially, Finlandia offered Finnish language classes beginning in October 1979. Finnish being one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn, the students had sisu, even if it took years to learn. Sisu is a unique Finnish concept, a special strength, determination, persistence and resolve to continue and overcome in the moment of adversity – an almost magical quality, a combination of stamina, courage, perseverance and determination held in hard times. The lesson covered Finnish history, literature, traditions and folklore! The classes have since been passed off to be tutored by a local college professor. 

Today Finlandia has four official meetings during the year: Two in Spokane, WA (March & September) and two in Coeur d’Alene, ID (May & December) to accommodate members in Idaho and Montana. A newsletter is published usually published four times a year In addition to the meetings, there are multiple community and special events throughout the year, including mid-summer Juhannus celebration, Unity In the Community, picnic at the lake, Fall Folk Festival, and Winterfest among others.

Holiday Traditions

Traditional Finnish decorations include Christmas Trees, using straw as decoration – like the Christmas Goat seen to the right, and lots of candles!

Other Finnish traditions include extensive preparation of traditional drink (Glögg) and foods from baking of cookies and breads to celebratory meals including appetizers (herring, gravlax) traditional entrees of whole ham, multiple root vegetable casseroles and a variety of desserts.

 

 

Today Finlandia has four official meetings during the year: Two in Spokane, WA (March & September) and two in Coeur d’Alene, ID (May & December) to accommodate members in Idaho and Montana. A newsletter is published usually published four times a year In addition to the meetings, there are multiple community and special events throughout the year, including mid-summer Juhannus celebration, Unity In the Community, picnic at the lake, Fall Folk Festival, and Winterfest among others. 

The organization also offers classes and excursions such as trips to Mullan, “The Finnish Capital of North Idaho” and Fall Folliage Lake, and classes in weaving textiles and log building!